Posts Tagged ‘Surveillance’

The Solar Powered COM-BAT Spy Plane

Sunday, November 9th, 2008


In this season of specters and spooks, what could be scarier than a steel-winged robotic spy plane shaped like a bat? The aptly named COM-BATis a six-inch surveillance device that is powered by solar, wind, and vibrations. The concept was conceived by the US military as a means to gather real-time data for soldiers, and the Army has awarded the University of Michigan College of Engineering a five year $10-million dollar grant to develop it. (more…)

ABB wireless motion detector with almost zero energy consumption

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

busch-watchdog.jpgABB has developed a top-of-the-range wireless motion detector that does not consume mains electricity and is powered – for a remarkable 5-7 years – by just three standard 1.5 volt alkaline batteries.

Launched to widespread industry acclaim in Germany in 2007, the new Busch-Watchdog wireless motion detector breaks new ground in energy-efficient and cost-effective building surveillance technology.

Powered by just three inexpensive AAA alkaline batteries (the sort commonly used in portable electronic devices like digital cameras, MP3-players and remote TV controls), the new motion detector uses an innovative design to eliminate the need for costly wiring and reduce power consumption to uniquely low levels.

Battery lifespan can be extended even more – to 10 years – by using lithium iron disulfide cells instead of standard alkaline batteries.

Industry benchmark

ABB developed the product in collaboration with Busch-Jaeger and MEMS Inc, a Swiss-based company founded by former ABB engineers. Busch-Jaeger is an ABB company and a world-leading brand in low voltage building installation products and solutions. Its range of Busch-Watchdog motion detectors is widely considered the benchmark in detection capability, reliability and esthetic appeal.

Equipped with an exceptionally powerful lens and broad range of functionality, the Busch-Watchdog detects any moving object within an unparalleled 16 meters of the detector. Unrestricted by power connections, the new wireless variant brings complete freedom of placement to users. It can be attached to a building, garage, perimeter wall, porch or ceiling.

The innovation is based on low power-consuming components and embedded system technologies in three interconnected modules compromising sensors, radio communications and microcontrollers.

The microcontroller supports several power-down modes that allow the detector to go into various states of ‘sleep’ during daylight, gradually waking up as the light fades. Full recovery is instantaneous (a few microseconds) if a moving object is detected.

Busch-Watchdog wireless motion detector is one of several wireless products in the Busch-Jaeger portfolio.

More depth review about this article

Alanco to track D.C. inmates

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

prisonAlanco Technologies has announced that its subsidiary Alanco/TSI Prism, a provider of real-time RFID tracking technologies, has won a $3.3 million contract to create an RFID-based inmate tracking system for the Washington D.C. Department of Corrections.

The Alanco/TSI Prism system, which will combine Alanco’s TSI Prism RFID system with Wi-Fi compatible RTLS technology from AeroScout, will be installed at a Washington DC jail complex housing over 2,000 prisoners and staffed by 450 DOC employees. The system is intended to increase safety and improve inmate accountability.

Source: RFID News

Different GPS wildlife tracking solutions

Saturday, May 31st, 2008
WildLife Tracking

GPS wildlife Tracking or GPS Telemetry is another high-potential growth area for GPS applications. With ever smaller dimensions and weights and the availability of solar cell power these devices can be used in a growing number of cases. For most of us GPS tracking means probably GPS vehicle tracking systems, but we will show even more spectacular applications in quite different fields.

Collecting GPS data is one thing, but reading the data is often more complicated and, especially in real-time, rather expensive. The simpler ‘passive’ units store the data in internal memory. Data can only be read, once the unit is retrieved by the user or sometimes when the unit comes within the reach of a radio connection between the unit and a (portable) receiver.

More sophisticated GPS wildlife tracking units send the data via a cellular phone network in regular time intervals or on demand in the case of units with two-way communication. It is obvious that this only can function within the coverage area of the cellular phone network.

Two-way communication has the extra advantage that the programming of the unit can be modified, even with the unit in use and at distance. This way the user can change the time intervals between reports, or even met the unit in a pause position.

The most expensive GPS wildlife tracking systems send the data in regular intervals via satellites (Argos, GlobalStar). This stands for a really global coverage, but is not a real time solution as the satellites can not be reached 24h/24h. Data can only be sent or received when a satellite is overhead.

GPS Wildlife tracking systems

GPS wildlife tracking systems are now available for almost all mammals and even for the bigger birds. In 1994 the first collar, the Lotek GPS_1000 weighed 1.8 kg and was too heavy for mid-sized mammals. Less than 10 years later Microwave Telemetry has developed the PTT-100, a 70 gr solar powered GPS tracking system that transmits the data to the Argos satellite system. We present some other manufacturers and their programs.

The above-mentioned Lotek specializes in GPS collars for small to large mammals. Their collars contain a VHF tracking beacon. Other innovations include remote two-way communication, which allows you to retrieve data on demand and/or reprogram the collar while it is still on the animal. Temperature and mortality sensors as well as field uploads and downloads. All the GPS wildlife tracking collars can be equipped with a remote release mechanism or a drop-off mechanism that is activated after the expiration of a factory pre-programmed time delay.

Televilt Sweden manufactures three different types of collars as well as backpacks for birds. The GPS-Simplex uses a radio link while GPS-Direct and GPS-Weblink use a cell phone modem (GSM 900/1800). All systems can be fitted with a drop off (pre-programmed or remote control release). Televilt only uses Lithium batteries. GPS-Direct and GPS-Weblink are customer programmable while on animal.

Telemetry Solutions is a Californian based telemetry company involved in GPS wildlife tracking since 1998. Last year the development of a proper GPS collar started. The project focuses on equipment reliability (expressed in back-up VHF beacon, two built-in drop off units, custom made GPS receiver amplifier etc.) and how the product is supported. TS intends to deliver a very reliable system and back it up with customer support. This may not seem as anything new; however, wildlife biologists all around the world are used to failing GPS collars and not too friendly customer support. TS intends to change that, to the better. Toma Track is their distributor of GPS wildlife tracking devices in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

BlueSky Telemetry in the UK manufactures GPS tracking collars. The modular design of each collar range enables the biologist to pick and choose different components to suit their individual application. The following options are available: GSM mobile telephone engine, UHF radio modem and Satellite telephone engine, enabling remote setup and download. Other options include Programmable remote drop-off, Temperature, Mortality and Activity sensors and a VHF or UHF radio telemetry beacon.

Telonics has a long history in manufacturing wildlife telemetry, conventional telemetry and tracking devices. Their Store-on-Board GPS Collars for animal tracking applications, with or without ARGOS Uplink, are only part of a program of quality electronics for wildlife, environmental research and special applications.

Wildlife tracking

Environmental Studies from Germany is distributor of Vectronic Aerospace GPS collars. The modular system around the GPS Plus collar offers two completely different options of data download while the collar is still on the animal: via UHF radio link on demand or continuously via GSM mobile phone directly into the office. Several accessories are available: a VHF beacon, an activity/mortality logger, a temperature logger and different drop-off systems. All GPS collars can store the positions of the animal on board in non-volatile flash memory. The same technology is also available as a 160gr backpack for large birds.

Wildlife Track Inc. develops and manufactures telemetry and direction finding systems. Their GPS wildlife tracking collars store up to 6240 three-dimensional locations with date and time in nonvolatile memory. Nominal weight is 500 gr and a VHF beacon is standard on all collars. GPS battery lasts up to 7 years (one fix per day). GPS collar circumference is adjustable and WGS 84 or NAD 83 Datums can be specified upon ordering.

The Advanced Telemetry Systems GPS Remote Release Collar can be remotely triggered to drop off the animal on command with the available ATS Command Unit. The collar will also automatically drop off as it reaches the end of its battery life to ensure data retrieval. Up to 8190 locations can be stored on board the unit. The collar incorporates a VHF transmitter to signal location, the status of the last GPS co-ordinate, mortality and battery conditions. The ATS collar also provides data on animal activity, ambient temperature, mortality, VHF duty cycle program, battery voltage and the amount of time logged on the battery backup.

North Star has developed a line of animal GPS collars and bird borne platform transmitter terminals (PTT’s). Acquisition of GPS locations for store and forward through a satellite service provider can be programmed in a variety of duty cycles.


Considering RFID to track children

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

kidThe yet unsolved kidnapping of kids have brought much fear to parents with young kids in the country. Despite the intense police and public search nationwide and on-going media coverage, the six-year-old is still nowhere to be found.

As long as the culprits are still at large, the chances of other kids being kidnapped remain high. For the time being, maybe it’s time the authority starts thinking of the possible unconventional measures that can be taken to prevent this heinous crime.

One thing or rather technology that may sound possible to be implemented is radio frequency identification, or commonly known as RFID.

Although its usage currently is very much concentrated on information tracking functions, including inventory management, movement of shipping containers, library books, credit cards, etc, there is a possibility that this technology can be used for tracking humans.

For those who are not familiar with RFID, it’s a tiny rice-sized chip that has an antenna. When the chip hears a specific radio signal, it responds with information, usually a long identification number to allow it to be tracked.

Over the past couple of years, trials have been done in countries such as the US, UK and Mexico on its potential to prevent kidnapping. These include planting the RFID device in children’s clothing or injecting it beneath the skin. The idea is viable because RFID chip does not use battery, and since it is small enough, it can be attached to practically anything.

The issue today is that people don’t like the idea of having something attached to them for the purpose of tracking. The idea of planting the chip in one’s body is still unacceptable to many as it’s a kind of privacy intrusion. But using it on clothing or school bags does seem to make more sense.

Applying this to school kids aged 12 and below may be acceptable because these kids are still not mature enough to protect themselves.

The whole idea of having a trackable device is to make it possible to track a missing child in the first few critical hours of the kidnapping incident, and with the RFID chip transmitting the much-needed data, it may make the search of the missing child easier and faster.

Initiatives like these would need all parties to be involved, especially the Government with the help of telecommunications companies and the relevant technology vendors.

If this technology can be implemented in the near future, as the technology mature and becomes cheaper, the chances of tracking a kidnapped child are probably higher.

U.K. Turns On CCTVs: Hey, Behave Yourself!

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

cctv on tthe skyThe United Kingdom has the most surveillance cameras per capita in the world. With the recent news that CCTV cameras do not actually deter crime, how can the local town councils justify the massive surveillance program? By going after pooping dogs.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, the head of the Metropolitan Police’s Visual Images Office explained the failings of CCTV:

“Billions of pounds has been spent on it, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It’s been an utter fiasco: only 3 percent of crimes were solved by CCTV. There’s no fear of CCTV. Why don’t people fear it? (They think) the cameras are not working.”

Conjuring up the bogeymen of terrorists, online pedophiles and cybercriminals, the U.K. passed a comprehensive surveillance law, The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, in 2000. The law allows “the interception of communications, carrying out of surveillance, and the use of covert human intelligence sources” to help prevent crime, including terrorism.

Recent reports in the U.K. media indicate that the laws are being used for everything but terrorism investigations:

  • Derby City Council, Bolton, Gateshead, and Hartlepool used surveillance to investigate dog fouling.
  • Bolton Council also used the act to investigate littering.
  • The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea conducted surveillance on the misuse of a disabled parking pass.
  • Liverpool City Council used Ripa to identify a false claim for damages.
  • Conwy

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Our Future Is Full of Microchips

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Here’s a vision of the not-so-distant future:

  • Microchips with antennas will be embedded in virtually everything you buy, wear, drive and read, allowing retailers and law enforcement to track consumer items _ and, by extension, consumers _ wherever they go, from a distance.
  • A seamless, global network of electronic “sniffers” will scan radio tags in myriad public settings, identifying people and their tastes instantly so that customized ads, “live spam,” may be beamed at them.
  • In “Smart Homes,” sensors built into walls, floors and appliances will inventory possessions, record eating habits, monitor medicine cabinets _ all the while, silently reporting data to marketers eager for a peek into the occupants’ private lives.

Science fiction? Read the rest of this entry